Building fund levy needed for schools’ upkeep
Speaker: School levy needed
Rostad tells Kiwanis: Building fund levy needed for schools’ upkeep
By ANDREA JOHNSON
Staff Writer,Minot Daily News
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A dedicated building fund is necessary to keep Minot’s schools in good shape, school board member Jim Rostad told the Kiwanis Tuesday.
“We’ve got problems in virtually every building in the district,” said Rostad.
Minot voters narrowly defeated a proposed building fund levy in May, but school board members said last week they plan to revisit the proposal next year. At the same time, they would likely also ask voters to approve a mill levy to renovate the old Medical Arts building the district plans to purchase.
Rostad said board members aren’t sure why voters defeated the building fund levy, as board members thought they had a good chance to win. A 2002 buildings and grounds study showed there are $16 million in needed repairs on the district’s school buildings, yet the district asked for just $8 million in May.
Rostad said he heard from some people after the election, but thinks many people who voted “no” aren’t voicing their opinion out of their own circles.
Rostad did recall that board president Nancy Langseth heard one voter express suspicion about “that sneaky school board” prior to the election. Langseth was making calls for the “Yes Committee” asking voters to support the building fund levy. The caller didn’t know who Langseth was, Rostad said.
However, Rostad said few people showed up for the public information presentations given by school superintendent David Looysen prior to the election.
Kiwanis member Gary Holum suggested that the school board members visit PTA groups prior to a future building fund levy election. Many people are too busy to attend an evening presentation, Holum said.
Rostad told the Kiwanis that the board members believe the building will be a good replacement for Washington Elementary School and will also help ease overcrowding at Sunnyside Elementary. He said Washington Elementary could not be renovated successfully.
Kiwanis member Earl Allen said he is skeptical that Washington Elementary is in as bad shape as board members say it is.
Allen recalled that school officials said years ago that Central Campus was in terrible shape and needed to be replaced. Central Campus has since been renovated and school board members said the district saved millions by renovating instead of building a new school.
Other Kiwanis members disagreed with Allen and said they think Washington does need to be replaced.
Rostad said the school cannot be renovated because it is built on a small site and because of the way the 1930s-era building was designed. The 2002 buildings and grounds study said Washington’s split entry type of design and the limited space availability made it a poor candidate for restoration. The building’s heating and ventilation system also couldn’t be renovated to bring it in line with today’s standards, Rostad said.
Overcrowding is also an issue at other Minot schools, said Kiwanis member Kari Conrad. Conrad said she thinks Sunnyside Elementary School, for instance, is still suffering from the school board’s decision to close Jefferson Elementary a few years ago and bus children from the neighborhood to Sunnyside. Sunnyside Elementary School currently has four portable classrooms in use, one for music and others for fourth- and fifth-grade class sections.
Conrad said many children from the Jefferson neighborhood are among the poorest in the community. She wonders how it makes them feel to attend classes in portables.
Sunnyside Elementary School principal Cindy Cook said there was an increase in school enrollment when school started this fall. She said the school size is manageable. However, Cook said she likes the idea of renovating Medical Arts Clinic into an elementary school and sending some children from the Sunnyside neighborhood there.